Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Whiteboard Envy

My whiteboards are small. And this bothers me, because I know other teachers (Andrew and Fawn) have bigger whiteboards and they're able to do so much more with them. They know how insecure I am, but that doesn't stop them from showing off.

So I decided to write a letter to my administration this morning. I hope that I was convincing.

Ladies and gentlemen,

First off, let me tell you how impressed I am with your charming personalities and insights. You are all very in tune with what works in education, and very supportive of teachers’ requests for new materials.

Incidentally, I have been having some enlightening discussions with some other successful teachers from across the country, and a common theme in group problem-solving is the use of large whiteboards. In my own experiences, a whiteboard seems to have some magical effect on student engagement. Could it be that a clean whiteboard, this blank slate, represents new beginnings and unlimited possibilities? Could it be that students are better at sharing their work when they share their workspace? Do some of my students enjoy the pleasant aromas emanating from their dry-erase markers? (The answer to this is a resounding “Yes!”. One student in particular prefers the black markers because they smell like bananas.) Regardless, it seems that whiteboarding is a preferable medium for students to share their mathematical thinking.

But alas…I do not possess whiteboards of such size that would foster such thinking. My tiny 12” by 12” boards are capable of containing only the smallest amount of information. They are woefully inadequate.

This is why I would like to purchase large, group-friendly, 24” by 32” whiteboards from Each board costs only $10.50, or the cost of two Pomegranate Frappaccinos. Accounting for the fact that I could have a class of 30 students, and the smallest group I might have is a group of two students, it would make sense that we order 15 boards for a cost of $157.50. There would also be some shipping costs, which might be costly, but isn’t it worth it…you know, for the kids?

Thank you for taking the time to consider this purchase.

Nathan Kraft
Math Department
DHH Lengel Middle School, Pottsville, PA
Class Website:


Everyone in the twitterverse (and their mothers) is telling me that I should just go to Lowes or Home Depot:

I think the biggest concern I have about this is that the edges will be rough which does not look pretty and could give kids splinters. Yeah, I could sand it down...would that be sufficient? I also am concerned about the thickness and quality of the materials. I don't want these things breaking easily. Any thoughts from you, the whiteboarding community?

Finally, Dan Bowdoin had this solution....


  1. Don't sent it, Nathan! Go to Lowes and eat the receipt. Save your skills to craft an argument to subsidize the cost of the long, lost educational experience...the field trip.

    1. I like a good field's tough coming up with something really worthwhile. My favorite one that I've done a couple times is to take students to a nearby college to see their engineering program. Many of these students that I take don't even see college as an option. It's cool to see get excited about the prospect.

  2. My whiteboards were all made from either Home Depot or Lowes. Perhaps someone somewhere sanded down the edges (I got them via Modeling Workshops, so they were already made), but there have been no problems with splinters, breaking, or anything like that. I have used mine for several years now, and will likely be able to use them for several more years.

    Another hint: you can have them cut a handle in each board as well. It makes it nice for carrying them as well as hanging them up for reference.

    1. Thanks Kara. Everyone who has them cut sounds very positive about it. I'm starting to lean towards that solution.

  3. I went with Lowe's. 3 boards cut into 18 cost me about $100, but that's a Canadian thing. The most asked question I get during any workshop is "Where'd you get the boards?"

    Love the letter. If you need more ammo in dealing with your admin, check out No. 2 in this post:

    Tell 'em that magical effect is research based. It seems students are more likely to take risks when their mistakes aren't permanent.


  4. I didn't tape mine. No splinters. In fact, over time, the edges rub down and are very smooth. Plus, stores will usually do the cuts for free bc you are a teacher. :)

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